The Storfjord Hotel, Norway

It is with a little hesitation, I am trying to pronounce the destination where I am holidaying this winter month – Skodje, the Storfjord Hotel to be exact. The more I say it, the more it becomes a rhythmic sound and I am looking for excuses to repeat myself. Not so much to hear the twang in my voice, but more so to repeat where my journey will take me this time: Norway, to the fjords on the west coast – I’m excited.

 

The setting

Amongst a scenery of pine trees covered in snow, a near perfect white countryside; only the little houses with smoke escaping their chimneys give away there is more than just a vast snowy landscape. The Storfjord Hotel is beautifully located amongst this scenery, not far Norway’s most scenic ski resort Strandafjellet, and situated along the rugged coastline. The view over the village of Skodje and the Stranda community is breathtakingly magical – here is where the impressive Geirgangerfjord (and waterfall) dares to impress in every season and this time round. And yes, the mountainous landscape surrounding me; surely impresses.

 

The nearby cable car goes high up into the mountains (1042metres above sea level to be exact) and if you’re into hiking, the countryside sure ticks all the winter hiking boxes and promises to impress. Skiing is an hour drive from the hotel through rugged scenery, or head to the nearby towns and indulge in cultural heritage along the fjords.

 

The hotel

The Storfjord Hotel boasts a raw but luxury feel – deep leather chairs with elegant velour cushions, soft couches layered with heavy sheepskins to comfort guests in the seating area surrounding the fireplace – all enclosed by the famous Scandinavian birch wood frame of this countryside hotel. The roofs are isolated with grass and moss to make light of its remote location, and I somehow wish for some trolls and elves to appear to make this mythical setting come to life.

 

The rooms

The rooms and suites have a similar country feel adding a romantic note with the canopy bed as a centrepiece. The hotel is classed as a boutique hotel and with only 30 rooms, the label is granted – even though the hotel surely demands grandiosity. Rooms and suites are simple yet every detail is in place and all comfort is thought of, especially after a long day in the outdoors.  The comfy rooms breathe tranquillity amongst the muted décor and I cannot help to be in awe by the timber furniture. Most furniture has been newly bought, while some items have been added as catchy interior pieces and beautiful antiques. I am in love with the standalone wooden cupboard and adore the leather chairs and soft plaids draped over to comfort and emphasize the cosiness of the interior details.

 

The suites

The Storfjord Suite overlooks the fjord, as the name suggests. The suite has a centrepiece stone fireplace facing the four-poster bed and a private balcony to escape and indulge in the best winter vistas you can ever imagine – in the evenings the logs in the fire pit on the balcony are lit and I wonder where to get a bag of marshmallows for roasting. Instead, I find solace in the heat coming from the flames and snuggle in my wintery wools, blowing air clouds into the dark sky – the serenity of the countryside is extraordinary, the calming silence even more so.

 

A spa does not really exist, however the hotel offers a wellness area where massages can be booked and the outdoor Jacuzzi and the sauna are always ready, as expected. And even though the crisp white countryside sets the mood for a sauna visit, the suite’s bathroom with Molton Brown toiletries, a rain shower and imposing stand-alone bath would suit perfectly as a Scandinavian sauna runner up.

 

The food

The Storfjord Hotel is renowned for its passion for native produce and similar cooking – unpretentious gourmet, keeping loyal to local products and craftsmanship, so local that some brews are only served at the hotel. Think sturdy foods – a welcome feast of unique Norwegian prepared ingredients after the crisp outdoor air cooled you down. The hotel’s dining space is set as a cosy café, the smell of fresh pine cones a reminder of what summer would be like, with views over the snow-covered mountains – the best place to dig into some beautifully prepared dishes, whilst enjoying the best winter wonderland panoramas you can ever imagine. Skål

 

For hotel bookings or special curated Scandinavian winter Itineraries, contact www.pomalotravel.com

Guest Post by Rupert Wright of Ashbright
Welcome
 
Paris holds no terrors for well-heeled travellers, who can check into one of the city’s eleven palaces such as ­ the Georges V, Plaza Athénée, Le Bristol or my favourite, Le Meurice. But for those on any kind of budget, finding a decent place to stay in the French capital can be a challenge. Bedrooms smaller than a bathroom, bathrooms smaller than a bidet, we’ve all stayed at one of them and lived to regret it. So, it’s with great pleasure that I have found almost the perfect Parisian hotel – and you don’t need to be a tech billionaire to afford it. The Bedford has been family owned and run for more than a hundred years, combining Swiss roots, French flair and English tradition. It benefits from strong leadership, attention to detail, and a staff eager to look after you. With just 140 rooms, it is large enough to intimate, but not so large that you are anonymous. It’s a 4 star, but deserves more.
 
The rooms
 
Parquet flooring; high ceilings; comfortable beds and pillows; keys rather than plastic cards; and best of all, real switches, that turn the lights on and off. The Bedford has sensibly ignored many of the technical traps that can make staying in a hotel room more challenging than setting up your own satellite transmission site. The result is a place that combines understated elegance with modern touches and old school service. Some rooms overlook the rue de l’Arcade, others look over a courtyard, but all are a decent size and a muted colour. There is air-conditioning too, which is a relief when the summer strikes.
 
Eating
 
Breakfast is a buffet in a glorious belle époque room, boasting stucco reliefs and a glass roof. Dinner happens here too, French cuisine and fairly formal. There’s also a relaxed bistro/bar that serves meals and cocktails.
 
 
Location
 
A stone’s throw from the Place de la Madeleine, the Place de la Concorde and the Tuileries Gardens, and the Opera, this is one of the best areas to stay in Paris. (Marcel Proust used to live just around the corner). It is a lively area, with great boutiques, wine bars and an eclectic mix of restaurants, Japanese, Italian, Chinese, Korean, Lebanese and French too.
 
Don’t miss
 
The Bedford knows that many people like to travel with their pets, so they are allowed to stay too.
 
 
HOTEL BEDFORD, 17, RUE DE L’ARCADE 75008 PARIS Tel. : +33 (0)1 44 94 77 77 Fax : +33 (0)1 44 94 77 97 More information at www.hotel-bedford.com
 
Rooms from €250; Suites from €450

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Sara Hamdan

Welcome to a magazine editor’s guide to luxury hotels and what to wear when you’re there! My work has appeared in: The International New York Times, Rolling Stone, Variety and CNN Travel. I’ve held editorial roles at VIVA Magazine, Dubai Magazine and Stylist Arabia.  Now, I freelance for the likes of Google, CNN and Savoir Flair!

Editing travel pages was always my favourite part of working for lifestyle magazines. I started this blog out of a love of beautiful hotels that provide the fairytale escape of a day as a princess where breakfast is a buffet and chocolates appear on my pillow.

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